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Four knowns and four unknowns in Google's Alphabet soup

Zach Miners | Aug. 12, 2015
According to Larry Page, the new structure would allow the company to get more ambitious things done but there was still a lot he didn't say.

If each letter could become a Google businesses unit, how many letters already have associated identities? "C" could just as easily be for Calico or for Chrome. "A" could be for Android ... or ads. "B" could be for Boston Dynamics, the robotics company acquired by Google in 2013, which builds robots that mimic the movements of humans and animals, including for the U.S. military.

Unknown: The timing
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Google said the new structure will be introduced in phases over the coming months.

Later this year, Google will implement a holding company reorganization, known as the "Alphabet Merger," which will result in Alphabet owning all of the capital stock of Google. As part of the merger, Google will survive as a wholly owned subsidiary of Alphabet.

But a more specific time frame wasn't given, so the next shoe could drop any time. Google will report its financial results under the new structure with its fourth-quarter earnings, expected in January. That would suggest that the restructuring, at least for accounting purposes, will be underway by the start of that quarter, in October.

Known: More transparency is coming
Under the restructuring, financial results for Google Inc. will be reported separately. Results for the other Alphabet businesses will be reported as a whole. This means that there will be a distinction made between, say, revenue generated from search ads versus revenue from the Fiber or Nest businesses. This could be a positive for Wall Street investors, who crave details about the health, or weaknesses, of Google's various units with as much specificity as possible.

Unknown: Just how much transparency there will be
But because revenue from the Alphabet businesses outside of Google Inc. will be reported as a whole, the information disclosed may still have plenty of gaps. It might be some time before we see financial results for, say, Nest versus Fiber.

Known: The new top brass
Sundar Pichai will become CEO of Google Inc. Though his title upgrade is a big one, he will still oversee many of the same products he does now. Pichai was named Google's head of product last October, which put him in charge of the company's key businesses like Android, search and Chrome.

Page, currently Google's CEO, will become CEO of Alphabet and Brin will be its president. Eric Schmidt, currently executive chairman at Google, will become executive chairman at Alphabet.

Unknown: Page's public profile going forward
Page stepped back from managing the day-to-day responsibilities of many of Google's core products when he promoted Pichai late last year. As the official head of the most advanced and futuristic projects at Alphabet, will Page take on a more public role in running those operations?



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